A Background Check for: Worcestershire Sauce

Food & Business Tips

Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce is probably the most well-known product produced in Worcester and was first produced by two chemists, John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins. If you look at the bottle today, there is still the message of “…from the recipe of a nobleman of the country”; but who exactly was this nobleman, and where did he get the recipe?

According to historians, Lord Sandy was a local aristocrat who had been the Governor of Bengal at one point in his life. In 1835, he went to the two chemists and asked if they could replicate a recipe he had discovered in India. Taking on the challenge, they eventually duplicated the taste to the nobleman’s content, and actually kept a few extra jars for themselves. However, they tasted the concoction and could not find a way for themselves to actually enjoy the new dish, so they took their jars and stored them in the cellar in case they had to replicate the sauce again for Lord Sandys. They forgot about the jars until some time later and decided to retaste the vinegar, just to see if it had become more palatable. To their surprise, the vinegar had mellowed wonderfully, and they decided to take the product to market in 1837.

To this day, the ingredients are listed on the bottle, but the exact recipe has never been revealed and remains a closely guarded secret by only a few of the Lea and Perrins employees. Their initial success led to a number of other copycat manufacturers, leading them to a court case, trying to restrict the use of the name “Worcestershire Sauce.” The court decided that anyone could use the name, but only Lea and Perrins had the right to call theirs “Original and Genuine.”

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